Leftover Salmon have been touring the country for over 25 years, bringing their blend of bluegrass and jam music to adoring fans everywhere. They will be performing at the Vogue Theatre on May 1st with Bill Payne, the keyboardist for Little Feat. I had a chance to interview Vince Herman, the guitarist and singer of Leftover Salmon about their upcoming show. Continue reading to hear how he started playing music, formed the band and more.
MOJO: I figure I’ll start at the beginning; how did you get started playing music?
VINCE: I grew up in a town near Pittsburg and went to a lot of family weddings. I had a real big family and I saw bands playing there. I just thought that was the shit, man. No one else in my family played but I decided to start lessons in 2nd grade or something like that. I played at church as a kid and then went to college in Morgantown, West Virginia, and got all tied up in the bluegrass scene and migrated to Colorado and started a band.
M: What was the first band that you were in?
V: Leftover Salmon, pretty much.
M: How did you guys come together initially?
V: It was a combination of a band called The Salmon Heads that I was in. Yeah, I guess that was really my first real band. We combined the Salmon Heads with some guys from the Left Hand String Band and what we thought was going to be one gig, filling in a couple people, we called it Leftover Salmon out of a combination of the two bands names. Little did we know, almost 25 years later, we’re still doing that stuff.
M: When did you decide to incorporate the washboard?
V: I got turned on to Cajun music in 1982 at the Augusta Heritage Festival in Elkins, West Virginia and that is the first time that I heard the washboard played and I thought that it was pretty cool. I didn’t get one until about 10 years later but you know.
M: You recorded your last album in 2012, before that it had been 8 years, what made you decide to record that album?
V: We called it quits on the band for about three years and then got it back together for the occasional one-off reunion gig and then we did enough of those that we figured it was either time to do it for real or not and we decided to do it for real. That meant doing a record.
M: Why did you guys take a break for a couple of years?
V: Well, we lost our banjo player to cancer. We really needed a break after Mark Vann passed.
M: I saw that you guys recently released the self-titled album digitally. What made you want to do that?
V: Well, that was the last album that we made before we took the break and that was before iTunes and all of those things and so we realized that we never had an online digital release of the record. It just took us a little while to realize that.
M: That makes sense, that is the way that most people get music these days, I guess. Have you played Indianapolis before?
M: What do you think of the music scene here?
V: It is great city, I love it, man. (There are) a bunch of cool little venues. I’ve always enjoyed my time in Indianapolis.
M: Do you like life on the road?
V: Sure. I’ve done it almost 25 years; I hope I did (laughs).
M: Since you guys have so many songs, how do you decide what you are going to play on a given night?
V: Well, we kind of put together a set list just about every night but we tend to forget about it and play whatever we feel. Having a list makes sure we don’t forget what we know. There are about 300-400 songs that we can pull off at any time.
M: Is it more fun to just drift into a song that seems right but wasn’t on the set list?
V: Absolutely, absolutely.
M: I used to go to a bunch of festivals, but I haven’t really as of late. I was wondering your thoughts about electronic music taking over the festival scene.
V: It reminds me of when disco happened. The culture will cure itself.
Leftover Salmon will be at the Vogue Theatre on May 1st at 9:00 p.m. You can purchase tickets here.
Click below to hear their self-titled album that was recently released on all major digital outlets.